Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: EPA Launches Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: EPA Launches Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law

J. Cullen Howe   By J. Cullen Howe, Environmental Law Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

In February 2011, EPA launched its Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program.  The program is seeking to make tools and resources available to communities wishing to improve quality of life issues and to make themselves more environmentally sustainable.  EPA will select 20 communities for targeted assistance.  The Program is geared toward communities that are relatively new to implementing sustainable community development approaches but have a basic understanding of livability principles and how they apply locally.


This assistance will include zoning code reviews, walkability assessments, parking policy analysis, climate action planning, commuter benefits, complete streets, and fiscal and economic tools.  Each community will have a one-day workshop open to the general public to discuss ideas, direct consultation with decision makers, and an outlined plan for the community to implement these ideas.




The Program supports the priorities of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaborative effort begun in 2009 between the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and EPA.  The Partnership seeks to advance development patterns and infrastructure investment programs that achieve healthy, environmentally sustainable, and economically stable communities.


The Partnership established six livability principles: (1) provide more transportation choices that will decrease transportation costs, reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; (2) promote equitable and affordable housing for people of all ages; (3) enhance economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers and educational opportunities, (4) support existing communities through transit-oriented, mixed use development; (5) coordinate polices and leverage investment to remove barriers to collaboration and increase effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth; and (6) value communities and neighborhoods by investing in healthy, safe and walkable neighborhoods.


Reprinted with permission from Green Building Law Update Service.


The Green Building Law Update Service is a 2011 LexisNexis Top 50 Blogs for Environmental Law & Climate Change nominee.


J. Cullen Howe is an environmental law specialist at Arnold & Porter LLP. Much of Cullen's work focuses on climate change, where he attempts to educate lawyers and the public at large on the enormous cooperation necessary to adequately address this problem. In addition to his work on climate change, Cullen is the managing editor of Environmental Law in New York, edits the Environmental Law Practice Guide, Brownfields Law and Practice, the Environmental Impact Review in New York, and has drafted chapters in the Environmental Law Practice Guide on climate change and green building. Mr. Howe is a graduate of Vermont Law School, where he was the managing editor of the Vermont Law Review, and a graduate of DePauw University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.


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